With Advent starting I have been doing a lot of reflecting. I suppose that is appropriate considering that Advent is supposed to be a time to prepare one’s self for Christmas. I always find solace in remembering where I have walked before. It is a handy way to avoid pitfalls of the now as well as adding perspective to where the current trajectory is aimed.
In the relatively short time that my husband, Jim, and I have been married we have already had many seasons of life. We barely survived as a family more than once. Although I am not an advocate for divorce, we came dangerously close a few times. When we got married I told him that I would murder him before I would divorce him. We came dangerously close to that a few times too.
Shortly after we got married I lost my job and things were tight. We managed to stay afloat with only some shoring up of the spending. Then I got a decent job making decent money, and a few months later I was promoted to making really good money. Jim got a new job making 2-3 times more than he was at his current job. We were financially set. We were always good about tithing our 10% and sometimes would give more. But we were never hurting for money. Man, did we buy a lot of STUFF.
The most vivid memory of this is getting Jim a new camcorder for his birthday. I decided to buy it on a lark, and spent 2/3rds of a paycheck on the nicest one I could find. But, what the heck, since we could have lived comfortably on one income. We still have it and still don’t use it. Then we bought a house zero down, based off both our incomes. Now we were generous with our giving, but we didn’t save and we didn’t plan. I think you know where this is going.
I began longing for children, but with our mortgage payment there was no way that was going to happen. We kept putting it off and all around me my friends are having children and settling down. After this had been going on for awhile, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who had just had a baby. They didn’t have a whole lot in the way of finances, but they had each other and they had their son. I wanted to trade places with her so badly. And I told her so. Here I am saying I would give away all my stuff just to have a family and be happy like I see her.
About 6 month later I changed jobs taking a significant pay cut. No big deal, Jim made more than enough to cover our bills and this move would be closer to home. No commuting 3-4 hours a day meant I would be home more and definitely happier. 4 month after that, Jim is seriously injured. Now we get to the part where you knew this was going.
Since then, we lost our house and since we didn’t have a place to put it, we gave away most of our stuff. Enter stage left, our new son, Roary. We were barely carving out a living, but we managed. Family helped out a lot and we managed to pay most of our bills every month.
I don’t think we quite got the lesson God was trying to show us though. We still didn’t live frugally, even if we lived with less than we had. We were permissive with Roary since we didn’t see him very much. I put him in the car asleep every morning to take him to a parent’s house for childcare. I picked him up right before bedtime to take him home and put him to sleep. My few days off were consumed with trying to fill in what I was missing all week long. Even though I wanted to be a good mom, I wanted more to enjoy my time with him.
Enter stage right, our second son, El. He was the game changer.
Now, I am an at home mom. At least for the moment. Roary has structure and discipline in his life (it’s been an adjustment). I am getting to watch El grow and change every day. All those things that I cried about missing with Roary, I’m there for with El. But the price for this is that we are crazy broke. And I don’t care. I don’t miss all those material possessions that I once devoured with an addictive frenzy. I will stay up half the night making laundry soap and cooking food from scratch to save money. I don’t care that I am exhausted (most of the time) and I don’t care that I can’t get my nails done whenever I want. This was a completely fair trade.
Now I get to the point of the rather lengthy review of my family’s financial history.
What I wasn’t willing to learn way back when, I have learned now or rather am in the process of learning. God had this waiting for me all along, but I had to be ready to follow his path. If I didn’t want this with all my heart, if this wasn’t what I truly longed for, then my current situation would have been more of a prison sentence then a full pardon. Sometimes I don’t know how all the bills will get paid, but they will get paid somehow. What I do know though, is that my children will grow up with parents who gave them what we could. I wasn’t ready 8 years ago to be where I am now. But I am very thankful to God that he waited until I was ready to give me this gift.
It makes we wonder as I continue forward, what else have I missed with my blindness? When have I missed God’s voice because I was blissfully caught up in myself? What other gifts is God patiently waiting for me to be ready to receive?
This Advent, I want to remember where I have been so I know how to not go back.